All this ADDS UP!
Here in the Hudson Valley of NY we pay 8% sales tax. When I first started coupon shopping, I did all the drugstore deals. It was great, but after awhile I noticed I was spending more money than I originally thought. I would plan my trips, but forgot to add in the cost of tax. Here in NY our tax is based on pre-coupon totals, so after awhile it adds up. That's not to say that the drugstore deals aren't a great way to save money, but once I had a stockpile built up, I realized I needed to be more selective in the deals I choose to participate in. The answer for me was to stick with CVS as my primary drugstore and only do the deals at RiteAid or Walgreens when they are for a hard to score cheap/free item or when it's such a great moneymaker that I can't resist. This decision has saved me so much money!
The moral of the story:
A Free Item isn't free if you pay sales tax on it!
Factor in all costs when deciding what's a good deal for you.